When it comes to style, the '80s were brutal. Giant hair perms led to irreversible damage, suffocating leotards made for frequent visits to the gyno, and let's not even get into that blue eyeshadow. No other decade gets dragged as much as the ‘80s, but as the cyclical life of fashion goes, certain trends are making their way back into pop culture. And chunky sneakers, tiny sunglasses, and bike shorts are just the tip of the iceberg. Designers like Versace, Alexander Wang, and Marc Jacobs are revisiting the ‘80s in ways that don’t feel out of place in 2019.
80s Outfit Essentials
Before you dive headfirst into the waters of 80s fashion, you need to know the basic garments that populated the decade. Since the 1980s were the decade of excess, everything was done on an extreme level. From colors and fabrics to jewelry, hair, and layers, in the 80s more was, well, more. Some fashion staples included:
All About Neons
If there is one 80s trend that many are fearful of is the overabundance of neon-colored fabric. However, there are cute, modern ways to incorporate it into your wardrobe. When wearing bright colors, it's important to pick one area to showcase it to avoid overkill.
Try a pink, neon-colored oversized top with black jeggings or skinny jeans. Accessorize with a black round-toe platform pump and a clutch in a multicolored pattern or solid gold. Finish your 80s outfit off with tons of bracelets stacked on each arm. Be sure to include bracelets that have the same neon pink color as your shirt. For a true 80s vibe, you could also add pink legwarmers.
Big Shoulders, Big Style
The appearance of power was big in the 80s and one of the most popular ways to convey that message was to wear clothing that had big, defined shoulders. From suits and jackets to blouses and dresses, shoulder pads were everywhere in the 1980s.
While the shoulder pad era has long since passed, defined shoulders still manage to make their way into modern designs.
Layers All Around
One trend that was popularized in the 80s is still very much a fashion essential, and that happens to be the art of layering clothing. In the 1980s, this was done with oversized sweaters, legwarmers, socks and tank tops. The good thing is most of these items are current wardrobe staples and can easily be transformed into a cute outfit.
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Every Girl Needs a Little Tulle
There were so many style icons of the 1980s that it's hard to keep track, but arguably two of the most prolific were pop provocateur Madonna and fun-loving singer Cyndi Lauper. These ladies wore several styles that were essential to the 80's, but one of the most popular was tulle skirts and dresses. This is a look that should only be worn on nights out or other special occasions because it would be too much like a costume for daily wear.
The purpose of wearing tulle is to have fun with it, so look for dresses and skirts that feature flirty, feminine designs, bold colors or pretty pastels. Keep things modern and understated by limiting accessories. For a tulle dress, pair with a bootie and with a tulle skirt step into your favorite pumps or strappy sandals.
Bright Shoe Indulgence
Color was practically everywhere in the 1980s, and high heels weren't excluded. The candy-colored heel phenomenon took off in the 80's and recently regained favor amongst the fashion set. As with neon, bright-colored heels should be the focal point of your outfit, so keep the remainder of your ensemble understated.
The best way to showcase bright color is to wear it against a solid backdrop, think black or white. Try a stylish LBD (little black dress), a black pencil skirt and a matching tee or black skinny jeans, jeggings or leggings with a motorcycle jacket and white tank. Opt for heels in candy-coated shades like hot pink, bright yellow, cobalt blue, lipstick red and purple.
Denim is one fashion staple that is relevant and popular in every decade since its creation. However, the 80s added a little flair to it's denim style. This was of course, courtesy of stonewashed or acid washed denim. The faded, worn look that this particular denim had in the 1980s was hugely popular and recently made a comeback.
For a modern outfit, wear stonewashed denim in jackets, jeggings and skinny jeans. Since the pattern of the denim is so eye-catching, be sure to keep your corresponding garments minimal to avoid overkill. Try these modern 80s looks:
•A stonewashed denim jacket with a form-fitting dress and pumps is equally cute and stylish.
•An off-the-shoulder knit top with a tank underneath and booties perfectly complement stonewashed skinny jeans or jeggings.
Zip It, Belt It, Buckle It
The noted presence of large amounts of zippers, belts, and buckles in 80s clothing probably has a lot to do with Michael Jackson and his iconic Thriller jacket. But, the trend inevitably trickled down to various forms of fashion garments such as pants, blouses, skirts and dresses. As with any trend, the 80s included, wear it sparingly to avoid looking like you're wearing a costume.
If you opt for a moto-inspired jacket that has zippers, belts or buckles or a combination thereof, keep every other element of your wardrobe simple. The same goes for skirts, dresses, and tops because the hardware on the garment acts in the place of jewelry, so the only other area of concentration should be shoes. Try shoes in metal tones like gold or silver, but the best bet is to wear black because it isn't overpowered by the hardware on the clothing.